- Dec 1, 2008Hello colleagues,
If there is one area in which Europe is a clear second to North America, it's in the area of racing during the winter months. On the outside front, the number of ice races is far less high than in the USA and Canada (and at high altitude as well), and indoor races are extremely few and far between. Over the years I've visited almost all available indoor venues within 300 miles from home, except the Veltins Arena at Gelsenkirchen (Germany), where, unaware to me, for the last two years a banger meeting was organised by German television network ProSieben. This year, I was better informed and I could attend the third edition of this indoor banger event, this time held on the evening of Saturday, November 29 at the LTU Arena of Düsseldorf.
Aline had to attend the funeral of her next door neighbour and thus, I go on my way alone towards this very unusual event at an equally unusual venue. In fact, the LTU Arena is none other than the football (soccer to most of you) stadium of German third division club Fortuna Düsseldorf. It's a partially open stadium with a retractable roof, but its side walls are a sort of glass cocoon. When the roof is closed, the stadium is surrounded by a second skin of glass, which really gives the impression of being inside a giant glass shoebox.
Seating was a lot less crammed than at the other football stadium I saw a race in, the Stade de France. The plastic bucket seats were comfortable and had plenty of leg room. Moreover, the Arena was very well heated. The downside was that the seats were very far from the track. They had dismantled the athletics track and the concrete layer under it was used as paddock and pit lane. The course was a very entertaining dirt one.
The programme was also unusual. The competition was between ten teams, each consisting of three cars, one in the -1500cc division, one in the -1900cc division and one in the up to 3500cc division. Teams consisted of one professional driver (and fellow trackchaser Hans Joachim Stuck was one of them), one television entertainer and one other figure of showbiz or arts. The competition had three distinct parts. The first part, starting at 6.00PM, consisted of regular ten minute races for all three categories. In these races, banging was allowed, but only the number of laps driven and the finishing order netted points for the teams. These races were also used to determine the starting positions for the full contact banger race in each division, where additional points were given for spinning or overturning other cars. This stage and the following demo derby were televised live from 8.30PM. The first races were very good and even the full contact races were entertaining. DTM champion Timo Scheider turned out to be a very skilled banger driver as well, he won the -1900cc race with double of the points of the second finisher. The only thing that was a bit annoying, was that they stopped these races a few times to retrieve wrecks. As l had a three hour drive home to go, I left the Arena just before midnight, when the demo derby was started.
I'm now only one track away from the 700 mark, so I will probably go for at least one more track in 2008. There are several possibilities, but at the moment no firm plans.
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